“What is a sword so sharp, that it cuts a hair blown against it?Each branch of coral holds up the moon.”

~ Baling’s Three Turning Phrases, The Blue Cliff Record, Case 100

What with seasonal wildfires, yet another drought and now a rapidly-expanding viral contagion, I can’t help but feel at times like I am wandered through a kind of Old-Testament theme park. Over there is the Angel of Death ride, and here is the Red Sea boat cruise. Oh, did I forget the new arcade game, “Smash the Stock Market”?

Fortunately, my work with students constantly reminds me that we are always in a world of play. Sometimes that theme park feels a bit painful to navigate, but when we realize our world and all things are at play, the pain is eased a bit. And joy may enter our lives.

A friend, who is an airline pilot, told me recently that he was meditating one afternoon, before heading out to the airport. Outside his apartment, there were children playing, making noise. He just listened to the noise, without judging it; the floor began to breathe. All the anxiousness he had been carrying with him over the current political chaos and in other parts of his life, dissipated. “I realized,” he said, “there was nothing that needs fixing.”

Later, while flying into Phoenix, for him the airplane became Chao Chou’s “No” (Does a dog have Buddha nature or not? Chao replied “No”). With that, No began to bank in a turn toward the runway. And as No banked, the whole world was turning toward the landing.

I got a note from a friend recently:

Over the last few days I have been feeling like the world is my playground. Somehow, I was given this life and put in this place and each moment is new and a gift.

Now I get to see a shadow.

Now my head hurts.

Now Calvin is writing poetry.

Now there are colorful cups on the shelf.

Now my mind is solving puzzles.

Now my eggs taste salty.

Then today, it is not so much that way, but different. Now each moment is different.

The universe at play. Nothing needing fixing. The joy of salty eggs.